Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Dutch Royal Family

Pictures: Royal Palace, Amsterdam; Noordeinde Palace; the Dutch Royal Crown; Queen Beatrix; and the Queen with Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima; Princess Catharina, a future Queen(!); windmills of Holland.

The Netherlands, in Dutch not plural, but Nederland, means low country; almost 30% of the country is below sea level, with a majority of the Dutch living there; its reinforced banks to contain sea water from coming in so well constructed that the US government sent its engineers to examine the dykes after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

The Netherlands is also popularly called Holland, and evokes memories of the "Diaries of Anne Frank" and the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague are some of the best tourists destinations in Europe. Some of the greatest painters, Van Gogh and Rembrandt are Dutch.

The country lies on the western European coast north of the English channel, north of Belgium and west of Germany, covering an area of 41520 sq kl ms with Amsterdam as the capital and the Hague as the seat of Government. The Netherlands is also one of the founding members of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and OECD, and seat of the International Court of Justice.

In the Middle Ages, Netherlands with its traders and burgomasters, with its Far East trade in spices was then one of the richest countries in Europe.

Netherlands (and the southern region of Belgium that broke away and became a separate Kingdom in 1830) came into prominence as lands belonging to the Spanish crown whose people rebelled against the Spanish King Philip II and formed a Republic in 1581. Its relations to the House of Orange, with Prince William I of Orange and Nassau as a statdholder (a Viceroy) also dates from around that time, succeeding statholders were also from this family....the present ruling House is the same House of Orange and, in 1813, Willem I became the first King.

The present Monarch, Queen Beatrix, born in 1938, succeeded her mother Queen Juliana in 1980. The Queen had her college education at the Lieden University, with studies in sociology, jurisprudence, economics, history and constitutional law, studies of her overseas colonies, international law and European law. Her Majesty obtained a Degree in Law in 1961. She was a member of the Lieden Women Students Association!!
As Head of State, Queen Beatrix takes great interest in the affairs of state, especially involved with issues that face common people, for example how effective the Justice system is, in protecting their rights, especially rights of minorities. She is also concerned with environmental issues and takes interest in affairs of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

She married the German diplomat Claus von Amsberg in 1966, made the Prince of the Netherlands the same year............he died in October 2002.
Prince Claus was a distinguished member of the post war German Foreign Service, after his graduation, in 1956, as a student of Law and Political Science from the University of Hamburg. He had seen some war service during the Second World War but without any political commitment or connection to the Nazi party.
As the Prince Consort he was very active in the development plans of the Netherlands, even serving as Inspector General for Development Cooperation and, served on the Board of Directors of the Nederlandsche Bank, and Chairman of the Transport and Public Works Export Platform (council?)

Their eldest son Crown Prince Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange, is an active career officer, presently in reserve, in both the Dutch Navy, holding rank of Commodore, and the Dutch Army, with the rank of Brigadier General. He is also a student of History, Political Science and Law from the Arts Faculty of the Lieden University. As Crown Prince he represents his country at international events, and is involved in social issues facing the Dutch people.

Princess Maxima, wife of the Crown Prince, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971, and married to the Prince in 2002, is a professional executive and banker, having worked in Boston Securities, then in Deutsche Bank in New York, and in the European Union Representative Office of Deutsche Bank in Brussels.
After marraige she studied Dutch history and constitutional law, is a member of the Council of State, member of the Ethnic Minority Women's Participation in Society, and a member of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Micro-Credit, that is involved in small loans to the poor disadvantaged in under-developed countries. Amazing!

The House of Nassau Orange, descended from the House of Nassau, a German lordship that owned the castle of Nassau in the German Rhineland, became elevated to the title of Counts with Walram I, the first Count in the 12th century. His grandson Otto founded the Otton line, where a descendant Engelbert I married Breda, owner of Dutch possessions, hence the connection to Netherlands was forged here. Hendrik III of Nassau-Breda was made the first statdholder of Holland and his son Rene served in the same office; some form of hereditary basis was now in place, so when Rene died without an heir, his nephew William I of Orange became statdholder; he led a revolt against the Spanish King Charles V and his son Philip II which gained the Netherlands as an independent Republic. William I's descendants became the Kings/Queens of the Netherlands.

(William the III, King of England, was born William, Prince of Orange, son of Willem II, served as statdholder before he began a military campaign to claim the English throne, one reason of claim being his mother was Mary Stuart, Princess Royal, daughter of Charles the Ist of England!! and his wife Mary II, his first cousin, was daughter of James II of England!!!)

Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch, is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

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